Rick Santorum’s Campaign: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

by on December 3rd, 2010
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COMMENTARY | “Rick Santorum is tired, almost broke — and going home. The cash-strapped candidate acknowledges that he simply can’t keep up with the GOP front-runners in Florida.”

Do those statements, from a Friday Associated Press article, reveal a fundamental flaw in the procedure of our present campaign system? Has the road to becoming president become an issue of who has the most money?

In 2008, according to a USA Today article, a USA Today/Gallup poll reported 70 percent of Americans felt candidates spent too much money on presidential elections, and 57 percent of those polled said spending limits are necessary. Nevertheless, for the 2012 election, NewsMax.Com forecasts an expenditure of $8 billion.

Where does the expenditure problem commence, and why does each candidate need millions of dollars to win a presidential campaign? The phenomenal rise of Newt Gingrich, in the 2012 presidential campaign, exemplifies the problem.

When the campaign began, Gingrich was an also ran; politically speaking, eons behind Mitt Romney and his personal fortune of hundreds of millions. Nevertheless, he campaigned with vigor, but without excess cash did not put a dent in his political deficit against Romney.

An also ran in the Iowa and New Hampshire campaigns, his political future appeared bleak. Yet, in the South Carolina primary, after an infusion of a few million dollars from a Political Action Committee, his fortunes changed, and he won going away. Today, in the upcoming Florida primary, with more millions from the PAC, he is running a close second to Romney.

Why does the electorate lean toward the candidate who has the glitter of the green? Is it because money affords the politician exposure through the media, which means a voter has easy access to a politician’s message. If so, what are the alternatives for a candidate, such as Santorum, who doesn’t have the finances for that kind of exposure?

Santorum has a message that rings true with a portion of the electorate, because he won the Iowa caucus. How, though, does he deliver that message throughout the nation? He won in Iowa, because he ran an intensive campaign. He visited every county, and knocked on doors, because Iowa is small enough to respond to that type of campaigning. However, for that type campaigning, New Hampshire and South Carolina are too populated, and he lost the primary in both states by a large margin. Also, similarly, he’s far behind in next week’s Florida primary.

Maybe the answer is for the 70 percent of the electorate who want campaign limits to demand them, because the affluent politicians won’t, as long as they can leverage electability with dollars. That 70 percent is a powerful voting block, and is also a means of wresting political influence from the PAC.

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